Short Quiz: What Makes Us Happy at Work?

Oct 25, 2017

Short Quiz: What Makes Us Happy at Work?

When it comes to the subject of happiness, I’m a willing listener and life-long learner. That’s because happiness is often very elusive for people, especially when it comes to being happy at their job. 

How Happy Are You at Work?

Many will say that they are happiest when they leave work and home life is what gives them joy. So they end up living a dual life where work becomes an internalized enemy that, for whatever reason, is not filling them up with joy. Last week I discovered an article on Harvard Business Review that will actually test for how well you might align with work and how it makes you feel. But before we get to the test, let’s hear what the author Annie McKee, author of “How to be Happy at Work,” has to say on the subject:

“We all want to be happy on the job, but what does that actually mean? Is it just being satisfied in your job? Does it mean having fun at work? Are we happy when working conditions are good, our days are enjoyable, and our nights are worry-free?

All of these things matter, of course, but there’s more to it. In studying positive psychology as well as consulting to thousands of people around the world, I have discovered that in order to be happy at work we need three things: (1) to feel that we are making a difference; (2) to see the link between our work and our vision for the future; and (3) great relationships.”

More Than Going Through The Motions

Making a difference is quite subjective and I think requires a very specific vision for oneself. The vision we choose is the trigger for everything else we do. When our vision is aligned with the people we spend the most time with, like family and colleagues, we are in a creative state. This means that we’re allowed, or the environment is open enough, for us to thrive. In really good situations we’re not merely allowed, we’re encouraged. And just as importantly we feel compelled to encourage others. Hopefully at the end of every day we can reflect on the impact we made. More often, though we won’t see or know that what we did or said changed a life. It’s quite possible we have.

Vision Alignment

Goals that we set for ourselves are so often tied to the success or failure of what we do for a living. That’s because we all tend to think in terms of success as the obvious goal and we assign milestones and financial rewards as part of that traditional thinking. So a company’s goals have to be set in such a way that we can see the future for us in that hopeful scenario. There has to be internal “buy-in” for us to believe that the place where we work is on a path and journey that we want to take part in.

Corporate culture-building has become an industry. Consultants and testing and new tools have all been designed to uplift and propel the culture to greatness. Go to this link from HubSpot and see how famous companies position their brand and culture in a way that inspires.

Relationships Rule

Annie’s last point, I think, is the point. Whatever we do or don’t do can be traced back to a relationship. We are here to please or distance ourselves from people for myriad reasons. A good relationship that shares and grows and doesn’t judge is the high ground. On the happiness scale it’s off the charts and it’s that constant that we seek. Happiness is so connected to relationship that it’s hard to even explain what makes us happy without referring to another that’s right there with us. We are social. It’s important to bond. Some say, it’s why we’re here at all.

The other reason we’re here is to learn. Take the test and see what happens…

Annie McKee is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program. She is the author of How to Be Happy at Work and a coauthor of Primal LeadershipResonant Leadership, and Becoming a Resonant Leader.

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